Match report: Mali win first 2013 Afcon match against Niger
Posted: 20 January 2013 Time: 22:29
Seydou Keita scored six minutes from time to hand Mali a 1-0 win over Niger in their Africa Cup of Nations opener.
Mali deserved the victory, as they dominated possession and create chances, and also hit the woodwork.
Cheick Diabate has a chance early on, as he drove a low effort towards goal in the third minute, but Kassaly Daouda got down well to make the save.
Kalilou Traore tried an ambitious shot from 35 metres, which drifted wide via a deflection in the 16th minute.
In the 22nd minute Niger won a corner on the right flank, which Issoufou delivered, and after a scramble the ball dropped to Koffi Dan Kowa who smashed a shot towards goal, but Mamadou Samassa did well to block it and the ball rolled out for the throw-in.
On the half-hour mark, Traore delivered a ball into the box, which took a slight deflection as travelled towards the back post. Sigamary Diarra was unmarked, but couldonly knee the ball out for a goal-kick, with the Niger keeper at his mercy after missing the ball in the air.
In the 78th minute Mali had a great chance, as Diarra picked out Diabate in space. He cushioned his lay-off for Keita, who looked to pass the ball into the back of the net, and he struck the post before Karim Lancina put it behind for a corner.
With six minutes remaining the Eagles of Mali found the crucial goal they had been seeking. Diawara delivered the ball into the box and it looked to be a routine catch for Niger keeper Daouda. He fumbled, however, and the ball fell to Keita, who had the simplest of tasks, shooting into an open net.